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The Inspiration of the Old Testament.

The Inspiration of the Old Testament.

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY H. P. LIDDON

For even Christ pleased not Himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them
that reproached Thee fell on Me. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were
written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures
might have hope. Romans xv. 3, 4.
BY H. P. LIDDON

For even Christ pleased not Himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them
that reproached Thee fell on Me. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were
written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures
might have hope. Romans xv. 3, 4.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 27, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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The Inspiration of the Old Testament. BY H. P. LIDDOFor even Christ pleased not Himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on Me. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Romans xv. 3, 4. ET us consider some few of the truths which this statement of the Apostle seems to imply. I. It implies, first of all, at the very least, the trustworthiness of the Old Testament — I say its trustworthiness; I do not for the moment go so far as to say its inspiration. Unless a book, or a man, be trustworthy, it is impossible to feel confidence in it or in him, and confidence in an instructor is the very first condition of receiving instruction to any good purpose. ow, if this be so, it shows that the Apostle would have had nothing to do with any estimate of the books of the Old Testament which is fatal to belief in their trustworthiness. We may have noticed, perhaps, that when estimates of this kind are put forward, as is occasionally the case, they are commonly prefaced by 98 OUTLIES O THE EPISTLE the observation that the Christian Church has never defined what inspiration is, and it is left to be inferred that a book may still be in some singular sense inspired, although the statements which it contains are held by the critic to be opposed to the truth of history or to the truth of morals. It is no doubt true that no authoritative definition of what the inspiration of Holy Scripture is, of what it
 
does and does not permit or imply, has ever been propounded by the Church of Christ, just as she has propounded no definition of the manner and effect of the action of the Holy Spirit on the soul of man. ' The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, and canst not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth.' Our Lord's words apply to an inspired book not less than to a sanctified soul, but at the same time, both in the case of the soul and of the book, we can see that there are certain things which are inconsistent with the action of the Holy Spirit. Just as wilful sin is incompatible with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within the soul, so inveracity is incompatible with the claim of a book to have been inspired by the Author of all truth. n. The Apostle's statement implies, next, that the Jewish Scrip- tures have a world-wide and an enduring value. They were written, he says, for our instruction — that is, for the instruction of the Apostolic Church, which confidently aspired to embrace the world. They were written, then, for human beings generally, in all places, at all times. Could such a statement be made about any other national literature, ancient or modern ? Some instruction, no doubt, is to be gathered from the literature of every people. The products of the human mind in all its phases, and in circumstances the most unpromising, have generally something to tell us ; but, on the other hand, there is a great deal in the very finest uninspired literature that cannot be described as permanently or universally instructive ; much in that of ancient Greece, much in that of our own country. And, therefore, when the Apostle says of a great collection of books, of various characters, various dates, and on various subjects, em- bodying the legislation, the history, the poetry, the morals, of a small Eastern people, that whatsoever was contained in them had been set down for the instruction of men of another, and a wider, faith, living in a later age, and, by implication, for the instruction of all human beings, this is certainly, when we think of it, an astonishing assertion. Clearly, if the Apostle is to be believed, these books cannot be like any other similar collection of national laws, records, poems, proverbs. There must be in them some quality or qualities which warrant this lofty estimate. And here we may observe that as books rise in the scale of excellence, whatever their authorship or their
 
99 SECOD SUDAY I ADVET outward form, they tend towards exhibiting a permanence and uni- versality of interest. Could any merely human author have stood the test that the Old Testament has stood ? Think what it has been to the Jewish people through the tragic vicissitudes of their wonderful history; think what it has been to Cln'istendom. For nineteen centuries it has formed the larger part of the religious handbook of the Church of Christ. It has shaped Christian hopes, it has largely governed Christian legislation, it has supplied the language for Christian prayer and praise. The noblest, the saintliest souls in Christendom, have one after another fed their souls on it, or even on little frag- ments of it, taking a verse, and shutting the spiritual ear to every- thing else, and, in virtue of the concentrated intensity with which they have thus sought for days and weeks, and months, and years, to penetrate the inmost secrets of that one fragment of its con- secrated language, rising even to heroic heights of efforts and of endurance. Throughout the Christian centuries the Old Testament lias been a mine constantly worked, and is far to-day from being exhausted. Well might the old poet cry: 'I am as glad of Thy Word as one that findeth great spoils ; the law of the Lord is an undefiled law, converting the soul ; the testimony of the Lord is sure, and giveth wisdom to the simple ; the statutes of the Lord are right, and rejoice the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, and giveth light unto the eyes ; more to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold : sweeter also than honey and the honey- comb.' III. A second or deeper sense of Scripture constantly underlies the primary, literal, superficial sense. That a narrative should have two senses, one which it suggests to the reader at first sight, and another which is deeper, but which is only discovered on reflection, may at first sight strike us as strange, but Scripture itself tells us that this

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